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ZGBriefs The Weeks Top Picks, March 6 Issue


Violence was very much in China-related media this week as people inside and outside of China sought to come to grips with the brutal attack that took place in the Kunming train station on March 1. A new date, 3-01 has entered our terrorism vocabulary.

Photos: China Pays Tribute to Kunming Attack Victims China Real Time, Wall Street Journal

We can read many accounts of what happened last Saturday, speculation on who is to blame and why, and what the official response is but simply seeing the faces of those whose lives were changed in an instant keeps us connected to the fact that this happened to ordinary people going about their daily lives.

China sees wave of violence against hospital staff BBC News China

Sadly the attack in Kunming was not the only violence being reported. It's also happening in an unexpected sphere, the healthcare system, where it's reported that:

Hospitals in China are suffering an average of one violent attack every two weeks, according to state media.

In just a fortnight in different locations:

A nurse left paralysed in Nanjing, a doctor with his throat slashed in Hebei and another beaten to death with a pipe in Heilongjiang.

Three separate incidents all of which took place in China over the past two weeks. They are, of course, savage and shocking in their own right.

Even more troubling though is the fact that they are not isolated cases but the latest in a growing crisis of violence at the heart of China's healthcare system. It is leaving a trail of bereavement in its wake.

The article goes on to tell of one incident in detail illustrating that the factors contributing to these attacks are complex and that much remains to be done to deal effectively with the situation:

Chinese policymakers are trying to reform the system by widening access and expanding social insurance cover.

 

But it is not happening fast enough, and patient dissatisfaction is running high over expensive fees and claims of malpractice and corruption.

China's Parliament Opening Day Analects, Wall Street Journal

The annual full session of the National People's Congress began this week in Beijing. Prime Minister Li Keqiang began the meetings with a speech that included economic targets for the year and assurances to neighboring countries that any concern about the increased defense budget "are 'unfounded and misplaced' and that China has a 'peace-oriented defence posture'."

Perhaps of greatest interest to the people of China were his comments on the pollution that grips nearly all major Chinese cities:

Some of Mr Li's strongest language came in the section of his speech about improving the dreadful air quality that so often afflicts Beijing and other Chinese cities. The smog, Mr Li said, is "nature's red-light warning" that China's blind rush toward development is unsustainable, and that is time to "declare war" against pollution. His challenge, of course, will be to ensure that his economic growth target is not the first casualty.

How I Got a China Driver's License in Xinjiang Far West China

Having spent time this week attempting (and not succeeding) to change my out-of-state driver's license to a local one, this article resonated with me.

And it even includes a link to the author's ten sample questions that gives a taste of what taking the Xinjiang driving test is like. And no, I didn't pass.

Photo Credit: AFP in The Straits Times

From the ZGBriefs Team: The editor of ZGBriefs is traveling in China this month and although she is still compiling ZGBriefs content, we thought we'd give her a break from doing Top Picks.

Today we are starting a new feature, linking this blog with another of our publications, the ZGBriefs Newsletter. Every Friday, we will highlight four articles from the ZGBriefs newsletter that we consider the must read articles of the week.

Herewith are this weeks:

The good, the bad and the exiled? Chinas Class of 77 (CNN)

In this article, Jaimie FlorCruz, CNNs Beijing correspondent, reflects on his time as a student at Beijing University beginning in 1977, and some of his fellow students. These include Premier Li Keqiang, disgraced former Chongqing Party Secretary Bo Xilai, and exiled dissident Wang Juntao. Its an interesting look at the university careers of these three men, and the different paths they took beyond the academy walls.

When I enrolled at Beida in the fall of 1977, the university was steeped in the political ferment that followed Chairman Mao's death and the start of Deng Xiaoping's reforms.

My classmates, many of whom had worked on farms or in factories during the Cultural Revolution, were viewed by many as China's crme de la crme. They belonged to the storied "Class of '77" who passed the first college entrance exams held after the Cultural Revolution.

During the four years I spent at Beida, I met many other fascinating fellow students who went on to become important players in China's divisive political scene.

Among them was Bo Xilai, once one of the most powerful politicians in China, now disgraced and sentenced to life in prison for corruption and abuse of power.

Kept women (Aeon Magazine)

One of the unfortunate features of society in old China (pre1949) was the practice of having multiple wives, or concubines. When the Communist Party came to power in 1949, it was banned. With the relaxation of state control over the private lives of individuals (somewhat), coupled with the economic prosperity, this practice has made a comeback (albeit not officially sanctioned) in modern China. This article is a rather in-depth look at the modern phenomenon of mistresses in China today.

Shanshans $550 shoes came from her lover, but the soles of her feet, as hard as leather, came from her childhood. We used to play barefoot in the village, she told me. All the girls in the karaoke bar had feet like this.

At 26, Shanshan has come a long way from rural Sichuan, one of Chinas poorer southern provinces, famous for the spiciness of its food and its women. Today her lover, Mr Wu, keeps her in a Beijing apartment that cost 2.5 million yuan ($410,000), and visits whenever he can find the time away from his wife.

Inside the world of Chinas shadow banks (Marketplace)

In the West there is often concern about the financial health of Chinas banking system, and rightly so. However, there may be something more worrying than the Chinese banking system, and that is the shadow banking system, an off-the-books, totally unregulated banking system that a Chinese think-tank suggests is already at 40% of GDP.

"I began making cigarette lighters 20 years ago," continues Huang. "Four of my family members each put in $1,500 and lent it to me without interest. Thats what we call a Wenzhou loan."

Thanks to his Wenzhou loan, Huang Fajing made a fortune selling cigarette lightersChinese media now call him the lighter king.

On his road to cigarette lighter fame and fortune, the Lighter King watched on as more money flowed into Wenzhou. Over time, loans were no longer limited to just family and friends. The Wenzhou loan, says Huang, became a lot less innocent.

"Bigger groups of lenders began to form. They pooled money together and took turns taking out loans. Then they started lending money with very high interest rates - to strangers."

The House Churches Understanding of the Three-Self Church, Chinese Government and Themselves (Pacific Institute for Social Sciences)

This article, written by a house church leader in China (translated), gives an interesting glimpse into the division between the house churches and the official Three-Self Church.

The primary issue for Chinese house churches today is how to manage the relationship with the Three-Self Church and the Chinese government. The relationships among the Three-Self Church, house churches and the government are very complicated. We can only discuss them briefly at this time. If God permits, we should discuss them in greater depth in the future.

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ChinaSource Team

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